Select Thackeray Surname Genealogy

The place-name Thackray in north Yorkshire was the source for four Yorkshire surnames:
  • Thackray being the largest in number
  • Thackeray being the most well-known
  • and Thackrah and Thackery being two other less known names.
The name derived from the Old Norse elements thak, meaning “thatching reeds,” and vra, meaning a “nook” or “corner.”  The earliest documented appearances of the surname were Johannes and Robertus de Thakwra in the Yorkshire poll tax records of 1379.

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Select Thackeray/Thackray Ancestry

EnglandThe surname spelling in Yorkshire was becoming Thackwray by the 16th century.

“In the court at Ilkley in 1522, James Thackwray was fined for taking greenwood in 1522 and William Thackwray was fined for cutting wood in 1571."

North Yorkshire
One family line, sometimes Thackwray, began with William Thackray at Fewston in the Harrogate district of Yorkshire around the year 1630.  And there was another line from another William Thackray at Weston Otley recorded around the same time.

Nearby at Hampsthwaite in Nidderdale parish was the Thackeray/Thackwray family of yeoman farmers.  They were the ancestors of William Thackeray the famous Victorian writer.  His line ran through:
  • the Rev. Thomas Thackeray, the Headmaster at Harrow School, and William's father Richmond Thackeray, a high-ranking member of the East India Company in Calcutta.
  • and his daughter Anne, later Lady Ritchie, who became the custodian of his literary legacy.
Leeds and Hull.  The name also spread further south in the West Riding, into the Leeds area.  The spelling here was often Thackrah.  William Thackrah, for instance, was baptized at Mill Hill in Leeds in 1732.  Charles Thackrah, born in Leeds in 1795, was a pioneer in the field of occupational medicine.

The main spelling here by the 19th century, however, was Thackray.  Charles Thackray was a pharmacist who opened a chemist shop in Leeds in 1902.  In less than a century the corner shop grew into one of Britain’s leading medical companies.  In recognition his grandson Paul Thackray opened
the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds in 1997.

Meanwhile there were some Thackerays in Hull where Thomas Thackeray was the mayor in 1604 and 1624.  Later Thackerays appeared at Sculcoates, a Hull suburb.

America.  There were two notable early Quaker families in America from Yorkshire with the Thackara and Thackray names:
  • Thomas Thackara from Leeds who arrived with his wife Esther in New Jersey in 1681.  
  • and James Thackwray from Stockton who came to Bucks county, Pennsylvania in 1720.
South Africa.  William Thackwray from Wetherby was with his family one of the pioneer British settlers in South Africa in 1820.  He was allocated land in the Eastern Cape.

The years 1828 and 1829 were disaster years for him.  His son John Thackwray died during an elephant hunt in 1828.  Another son William was killed by Hottentots in 1829, just after his father William had died.  Joseph and James were the two surviving sons.

Elizabeth Thackery from Manchester was the last known survivor of the First Fleet when she died in 1856.  She arrived in 1788 and was generally known throughout her long lifetime as the first convict female to land in Australia.

In 1810 she married Samuel King, a soldier who had arrived with the First Fleet.  They settled in the Derwent valley and were married for forty-six years.

India.  Thackeray is also an Indian surname
.  It was first adopted by the Indian writer Keshev Sitaram who became known as Prabodhankar Thackeray.  His son the politician Bal Thackeray made the name even more well-known in India.

Select Thackeray/Thackray Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Thackeray/Thackray Names

Charles Thackrah, a surgeon from Leeds, was an early 19th century pioneer in the field of occupational medicine.
William Thackeray
was a famous Victorian writer, best-known for his novel Vanity Fair which came out in serialized form in 1847.

Bal Thackeray
was a fiery Indian politician in the state of Maharashtra until his death in 2012. 

Select Thackerays/Thackrays Today
  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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